Dallas Public Schools: Where We Stand

readingWhen I last wrote, we were waiting word from Harry Stone Montessori as to whether Tiny made the cut. And, well, while he passed the assessments, with hundreds of kids vying for 45 spots, we weren’t horribly shocked when the letter said he did not get in.

I mean, it would’ve been nice, yes. But realistically, we knew the odds were a longshot. Lots of kids apply for very few spots, first and foremost, and secondly, assessing three and a half year olds who are in a completely new environment with a bunch of new friends to make sounds something akin to herding greased, caffeinated kittens through a shopping mall built of catnip.

So what now?

First, I suppose, is where he will attend Pre-K. After our debacle trying to find out if Tiny could even be put on a waiting list at our feeder school, only to find nobody really has a uniform answer anywhere in the district, we came up with a new Plan B. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for him to start attending Withers right from the start, in Pre-K, but the idea of waiting around until the day school starts to find out if he will have a spot is unrealistic. Would anyone really do that? As much as we would like to send Tiny to DISD from the get-go, the current lay of the land just  doesn’t lend itself to doing so.

So we began looking at private options closer to home, since now we are driving clear across town to East Dallas for two days a week. We love his little school, but we’ve said all along that he would be attending school all day by 4 and a half, whether it was Pre-K in a Dallas public school, or going full time somewhere else for that year. But as luck would have it, the universe and fate or God and fate or whatever combination you believe in conspired, and the Mister suddenly got offered a new job that was a) closer to home than Arlington and b) down the street from the private Pre-K we liked.

And now we are here. Mister will take Tiny to school every morning, and I will pick him up. The boys will get a little extra time together, and I will get a little extra time sleeping/showering without interruption/and (and this brings me to the next conclusion we reached) fixing up the house – because we have decided to list it.

In all of this big flurry of big decisions, we came to the realization that while we love Midway Hollow, and we love Withers and what it offers, we need more space. Not a ton more, but a little more. This house was always meant to be a starter home, and as much as we love it, we’re not starters anymore – and we need a house that has a scootch more room, and at least one more bathroom. Thanks to some huge and pricey fixes to the foundation, the house is in good shape – but I do need to do some cosmetic fixes. We never got around to repairing the cracks that come from all that foundation work, for instance. I’d like to re-do the porch into something more inviting. I plan on installing a tile backsplash in the kitchen as well. And painting, of course, since that kind of goes hand-in-hand with repairing cracks in sheetrock.

We spent some time last weekend driving around the neighborhoods that feed into Kramer Elementary. We found that we really liked the neighborhood, and the fact that it would enable us to rent (even if it is an apartment) for a while we waited to find a house we love in the price range we need.  Thanks to the amazing housing market in the neighborhoods that feed into Withers, we can’t really afford to move there right now. We also like DeGolyer’s neighborhood, and I have to admit that I’m in love with the idea of Tiny and I being able to walk to school every day. If there was a house we loved available at the time we sell this one, we’d be happy if Tiny went there, too.

I guess if I was power ranking our options right now, it would be 1) Kramer; 2) DeGolyer; 3) Withers. And all of that now has to do with real estate – not academics.

So here we go. In the next few months, expect posts about how I’m tired of finding joint compound in my hair and lots of pictures of my house in various states of dishabille. Or if you’re looking for a great piece of property with mature trees, a new fence and hand-scraped wood floors throughout, and want to completely remodel the floor plan and save me the trouble of taping and mudding, let me know. And if you just want to bring me wine and packing boxes next spring, you’re my new best friend.

Tomorrow I’m attending a panel discussion at First United Methodist Church that will be moderated by former DMN scribe (and current George W. Bush Institute editorial director) William McKenzie. McKenzie and three DISD principals will be speaking about education reform. I will report back this week, so stay tuned!

10 Comment

  • Hoo boy now the fun continues since you’ve made the decision to list. I’m in the throes of the “make ready list” and checking things off….My house in Plano goes on the market next month. I’ve been updating my home all along but had to kick into higher gear for one or two projects. Start NOW to sort through things and weed out what you can donate to worthy causes. You’ll be amazed and what you’ve amassed AND what you then part with — the load will be lighter!

    Look forward to hearing more about your experience. Don’t pack the wine glasses away just yet — you will need them!

    • mm

      We would like to hear your story, too, Babs. We’ve lived in this house for 15 years. I feel like we are drowning in STUFF!

      • Stuff Stuff and More Stuff! George Carlin’s “bit” about Stuff is particularly relevant now! I’ve lived in my house for 15 years and while I’ve always been organized and smart about my purchases, I’ve discovered a few boxes of forgotten Christmas decorations. And oh that Ron Popeil pasta maker (what was I thinking????) and other odd acquisitions pushed into the far corners of the cabinets. It’s akin to an archaelogical dig — I discovered sweaters in a trunk. Sweaters??????

        But I always know where my wine glasses are at any given moment, even though I’ve amassed a collection of those as well…

  • Hi friend! Being a new DISD teacher this was so interesting to me…to see the public’s perspective. Can’t wait to read more!

  • Bethany – don’t give up on Withers! We love it and I am so sorry you haven’t received the answers you needed on pre-k. Historically, our pre-k program has been for native Spanish speakers or those who economically qualify. I do know that may be changing and I am happy to help you get accurate information. It’s truly an amazing school and community!

  • Also, most Withers students do not start at the school until kindergarten. At the kinder level, the school must take anyone in the feeder pattern.

  • Our 6 year old is at Kramer this year in kinder (dual language) and our 4 year old starts next year. We’re pretty excited because several of the class parents have the same situation. We’d love to have you! Let me know if I can answer any questions you have.

  • Love the stories – I help my clients do all the things you guys are doing – getting your home ready for the market is a real eye opener. My husband and I – sold 3 of our 4 homes last year to start to downsize
    for the “wonder (retirement) years” And believe me after 40+ years together we have some very strange items that came out of our barn we owned for 30 years 🙂 Anyway with that being said – today – the easy part is the sale – the hard part is finding a good buy. Happy Spring All – call The Nelms Team from
    Coldwell Banker if we can help. Best

  • I’m glad to see that DeGolyer is on your list. It’s a great school with involved families. The new principal has brought some good energy to the place. Make sure you’ve checked out Sparkman neighborhood. With the 3 pools and activities, it’s bustling with families and young kids.

  • You can also request a transfer to any school in DISD — it’s a fairly simple 1 – 2 page form and involves getting the permission of the school’s principal you’re transferring from/to. Check with the schools you’re interested in before selling — it may not be necessary.